Musk takes aim at analysts for pushing 'Tesla short thesis'

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Musk: “The ‘dry’ questions were not asked by investors…” Photo credit: Bloomberg

UPDATED: 5/4/18 7:45 am ET – adds reaction

Elon Musk defended his criticism of two analysts who asked tough questions on Tesla Inc.’s earnings call, saying they were “trying to justify their Tesla short thesis” and were working against the interest of investors.

Tesla shares had their biggest drop in more than a month on Thursday after the earnings call, during which the CEO rejected analysts’ questions following another quarter in which the company burned more than $ 1 billion in cash and pushed back production of its Model Y crossover. Musk said the questions “are so dry,” and turned instead to one from a channel on the YouTube video-streaming service.

“The ‘dry’ questions were not asked by investors, but rather by two sell-side analysts who were trying to justify their Tesla short thesis,” Musk said Friday on Twitter. “They are actually on the *opposite* side of investors. HyperChange represented actual investors, so I switched to them.” 

The analysts, Toni Sacconaghi of Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. and Joe Spak of RBC Capital Markets, rate shares of the electric-car maker the equivalent of hold. Musk cut off Sacconaghi for what the CEO called “boring, bonehead” questions, while Spak was the target of the “dry” comment.

Not ‘comforting’

“There is incremental concern when, on an analyst financial quarterly call, the CEO doesn’t appear to want to talk about important financial metrics,” Sacconaghi said Thursday on Bloomberg Television. “The read-through is that potentially the CEO doesn’t care or isn’t focused about those financial metrics or ultimately the numbers don’t tell a good story. But either of those interpretations are not particularly comforting.”

Tesla fell 5.6 percent to close Thursday at $ 284.45. Sacconaghi has a $ 265 price target on the stock, while Spak sees the shares falling to $ 280.

The news on Tesla “is actually super good,” Musk said in another tweet. The company’s Model S and Model X vehicles “are producing major positive cash flow & Model 3 is about to do same.”

Is he ‘unhinged?’

Earlier on Thursday, an analyst who’s bullish about the company said Musk should have a “mea culpa moment” and apologize for the contentious earnings call that spurred the sell-off of Tesla shares.

“Is he unhinged? And is our capital secure with Tesla? That’s the question people have,” James Albertine, a Consumer Edge Research analyst with a buy rating on the shares, said on Bloomberg Television. “Clearly, he seems fatigued and frustrated and this is the wrong time to lash out at the investor community. So it was a regrettable moment, to say the least, and the stock reflects that today.”

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